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SBRC Update: October 23, 2023

At the latest School Building Rehabilitation Committee meeting held on Monday, October 23, 2023 the discussions advancing the Greenlodge-Oakdale Elementary School Building project centered around estimated tax implications for Dedham residents, as well as a design update with new renderings, and an update on the traffic study underway.   


Exploring the Financial & Tax Implications of the Proposed Project

The SBRC invited members of the financial committees and departments in town to the meeting to explore the anticipated and estimated financial implications of the proposed project in more detail.    Using conservative, estimated numbers and industry standard projections, the group was able to discuss the potential impact of the project, as well as alternative scenarios, with regards to overall costs and household taxes over the next 35-40 years, though the presenters and committee cautioned that the information was being shared, not as a cost-benefit analysis of the project overall, but to help residents understand the project from a financial perspective.   Highlights of the discussion included:

  • The Greenlodge-Oakdale project, as currently proposed with a combined Greenlodge and Oakdale school, leaving Riverdale as a standalone school, would expect to be roughly $148,000,000* less than the projected cost to build three separate new elementary schools.  

  • The total cost of the current approach is expected to be approximately $201,600,000*.  With a conservative MSBA financial reimbursement rate factored in, the cost to the town would reduce to approximately $173,300,000*.  The total cost of building three standalone elementary schools would be expected to fall between $320,900,000* and $342,300,000*.

  • The current approach is estimated to save the average single family household more than $24,000 over the course of repayment, using current tax numbers which will shift over time, compared to the cost of building three standalone elementary schools.

The discussion also cautioned that the numbers presented in this analysis were meant to look specifically at taxes related to this project and not overall taxes. So in future years, the net increase on residents' tax bills may be smaller, as debt for other projects comes off the books.


*For the purposes of this update, numbers were simplified.  Exact projections, rates and charts presented during this discussion can be found on the Greenlodge-Oakdale Project webpage under Meeting Materials.


Project Design Updates

After finalizing a vote on the proposed design at the last October 10th meeting, the project architects Jonathan Levi Associates presented more detailed design notes at the meeting, for input and discussion.   They highlighted grade-level classroom design plans, including the use of breakout spaces in grade 1-2 classrooms, while grades 3-5 would instead have a common use area between classroom spaces. The latest design also diagrams shared school spaces, including an innovative “gymnatorium” — a combined gym and auditorium to maximize space for school and community use.  


Next steps in the process include detailed room-level designs, furniture and space usage, as well as landscape architecture.   During the design review, design notes and questions around space use, flow and important features to consider were also discussed.  Landscaping and field space were also discussed, with more information and community input planned as a key focus for the November 7 SBRC meeting.


Traffic Study Update

A brief update was provided on the ongoing traffic study, including feedback from a meeting that was held with abutters to the Oakdale site. Of note and discussion was the overriding concerns with regards to safety and traffic on Madison.  Drop off space as well as overall speed of traffic were called out.  A proposed request to shift drop off lines to the other campus entrance will be reviewed with the traffic engineer.


Expanding Community Update and Input

In addition to the official SBRC meetings, SBRC chair John Tocci and Superintendent Nan Murphy will be attending the upcoming PTO meetings at all schools across the District over the next 6 weeks, to provide a project design update, discuss the project timeline and address matters of particular interest to the PTO and parent community. 


Next Meetings:

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2023 - SBRC Meeting - 6:30pm at Dedham Town Hall

  • Monday, November 20, 2023 - SBRC Meeting - 6:30pm at Dedham Town Hall